Current Public Administration Magazine (DECEMBER 2020)

Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine

1. Accountability and Responsibility

To remain leader of ‘free world’, America must demonstrate commitment to values of its own Constitution

At the time of writing this column, the final and official result of the race to the White House is not yet known. The race, it seems, is headed for a photo finish. The numbers may be close but the consequences would be wide apart — for the people of the United States and people living in plural democracies threatened by majoritarianism. 

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2. Indian Government and Politics

Free speech is a basic right that empowers marginalised lives

The horrific beheading of the French teacher, Samuel Paty, has once again laid bare the fault lines of free speech. Tabish Khair‘s piece (‗Lost in Paris‘, IE, October 30) represents one such crack. Khair‘s piece is a crying appeal against those who kill in the name of their gods and ideas, to not kill. Do not kill or afflict injury to bodies that bear contrarian ideas, he seems to be saying. And he is right — how can he not be?

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3. Social Administration

  • What is Worth of Women’s Household Work

Rs 1,000, Rs 1,500, Rs 2,000, or Rs 15,000 (―with skilling‖) per month. What is the worth of a woman‘shousehold work? As parties, all led by men, rush out these doles in manifestos this election in a bit of amazingly un-ironic coincidence, for that half of the world euphemistically termed ―homemakers‖, are we ready to even go there?

As the responses to the startling Malayalam film The Great Indian Kitchen — capturing all the work that goes into a day to keep a house running, and especially keep it fed — showed, the men have either no idea about this or, if they do, would rather not be reminded of it. The enormity of what our mothers have gone through for generations hit most of us ―working women‖, so to speak, as opposed to ―homemakers‖, during the Covid lockdown. With helps vanishing at one swish of PM Modi‘s wand, it was interesting to see how social media was flooded with recipes, with domestic work glorified as a return-to-nature exercise.  A year later, as coronavirus warnings return, no one is suggesting those helps be kept out — and the recipes have dried up.

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4. Current Topic

  • Jobless Growth

COVID-19 infections are once again on the rise with daily infections crossing 60,000 per day last week.This is considerably higher compared to the reported infections during the same period last year when the numbers were less than 500 per day. What is obvious is that the pandemic is far from over despite the availability of vaccines. However, unlike last year, the response this time has been muted with no nationwide lockdown. One of the reasons for the differing responses is the lesson from the unintended consequences on the economy of the strict lockdown last year. While aggregate estimates on the growth rate of GDP showed a sharp contraction in economic activity (the economy shrunk by 24 per cent in the AprilJune quarter of 2020) the impact on lives and livelihoods is still unfolding even though the sharp contractionary phase seems behind us. 

5. Indian Administration

  • No Space for Liberal Education

Resignation letters are supposed to be answers, but few resignations pose more questions than the answers that they were supposed to give. Pratap Bhanu Mehta‘s (PBM) letter of resignation from Ashoka University or his earlier letters of resignation from the National Knowledge Commission and Nehru Memorial Museum and Library have raised more questions than answers. The fundamental questions about the idea of education and the functioning of educational institutions; what education may produce if it is not expected to inculcate critical thinking and reflection; why educational institutions must be accountable to the state and what does autonomy mean for a privately-funded university which stands on the idea of liberal education? Mehta‘s resignation is not about an individual and an institution coming to an agreement to terminate their mutual agreement but how and why a higher educational institution (even though it is private) could ask a teacher to resign only because s/he had a different and dissenting opinion, which became a political liability for his/her employer. It is not about Mehta‘s writings alone — the people at the helm may have rejoiced when he compared the PM to Charles De Gaulle — but it is about the inability of the system to reckon with dissent. It also speaks of how the Indian higher education system has evolved, especially in its attempt to get decolonised. The privatisation of educational institutions — schools as well as higher educational institutions — promised a ―liberal‖ space, but these institutions could never get out of the control of the state and the government of the day.  

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